As everyone adjusts to spending more time at home, marriages are being impacted. While it might initially be nice to spend time with your spouse, with no end in sight, it can eventually become challenging. In order to keep the current situation from having a negative impact on your relationship, adjustments will be needed. Below are some things you can try to help your marriage survive the coronavirus.
1. Discuss Expectations
During this time, schedules may be very different than what you are used to. It will be important to be clear about your needs and expectations. Expectations surrounding extra chores, childcare, work, personal needs, couple time, and family time should be discussed. When you don’t talk about these things, you may feel you are doing most of the work, and your spouse can feel the same way, which can lead to resentment. Talking about these things can allow you to come up with a schedule and plan that works for both of you and takes everyone’s needs into consideration, which is good for your marriage. With everyone home all of the time now, there is probably more cooking, cleaning, and other chores to manage. It is easy to let these extra tasks become a point of contention if you don’t share your needs and expectations with your partner. By discussing these things, stating your needs, and coming up with workable solutions, you can keep your relationship and household running smoothly.
2. Create Boundaries
Since isolating with your partner is a new experience, you will need to create some boundaries so your marriage can survive. If you are both working from home, it will be important to clearly define your work needs. For instance, if you have a conference call from 10-12, you can let your spouse know that you will need privacy during this time. If they need something, you will not be able to respond until after 12. For a boundary to be effective, you must clearly state what you expect as well as the consequences for breaking the boundary. Boundaries help your marriage remain strong as you are clear with your needs. As everyone adjusts to the situation, it will become clear where boundaries are needed in order to keep the peace.
3. Discuss Worries
Being able to lean on your partner during times of trouble can help you safe and secure in your marriage. When you share your worries and concerns with your spouse, they are less likely to come out in other ways. While it is normal to be a little short-tempered during times of uncertainty, being more direct about your concerns can keep you from picking fights over small things. You may be experiencing many fears about the coronavirus. Worries related to getting sick, caring for sick family members, financial concerns, job security, and when things will return to normal, may be on your mind. Keeping these things to yourself can increase anxiety related to the coronavirus. Having open discussions with your partner provides a safe environment to share your worries and talk about your concerns. When you feel you can turn to your partner, you will probably feel closer to them.
4. Spend Time Together
While you might feel as though you spend all of your time with your spouse these days, it is still important to spend quality time together. Plan time to spend together and be intentional with what you will do during that time. Make sure you let your partner know when you would like to spend time with them and what you want to do during that time. You can plan a date night in. Cooking dinner together, playing a game, or discussing future plans and dreams are some ways to spend time together. Don’t forget about emotional and sexual intimacy, which are important for a healthy marriage. Touch and affection can lower anxiety and help keep your connection strong.
5. Spend Time Alone
Although spending time together is important, so is spending time alone. Too much togetherness can be hard on your relationship. Make sure you are each spending time alone as well. Alone time is for working on your individual hobbies and interests. It’s time for you to relax and recharge. You can use this time to process your feelings, fears and concerns individually. This gives you time away from each other and away from work where you are focused on your individual needs and wants. When you have time alone to focus on yourself, you will be more likely to enjoy the time you and your spouse spend together.
6. Fight Fair
Disagreements and fights with your spouse are bound to occur with all of the forced togetherness, uncertainty and fear. When an argument does happen, it’s important to fight fair. In order to fight fair, you want to make sure you stick to the current topic and not bring up things from the past. Use effective communication skills. This means you use “I” statements, your partner reflects back what they hear you say, and you have a chance to clarify if needed. Agree to take a time out if things become too heated, or if name calling or belittling occurs. When you take a time out and separate for a while to calm down, make sure you state a time when you will come back and try again. This way your partner knows that what they have to say is important to you, they just need to adjust how they are saying it.
7. Practice Compassion And Repair
When you argue or disagree with your partner, it’s important to practice compassion and repair so healing can take place. Trying to understand the situation from your partner’s perspective is a good way to practice compassion. You can do things that you know cheer up your partner to help them feel better. Repair is about making things okay between the two of you, even if you are agreeing to disagree. Empathizing with your spouse lets them know that you understand their point of view. A heartfelt apology when needed, given verbally or through actions can help restore the peace. Making up after an argument can help you feel closer to each other.
If the coronavirus quarantine is having a negative impact on your relationship, try the above tips. Couples counseling, either virtually or in person can help if you continue to struggle. Although the current situation can be challenging, with some adjustments your marriage can survive.